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Hire for Character - Diversify Style

When building a character driven performance based culture within a company, it is imperative that you look for different styles as you select and recruit your professionals. I have held to the same five core values in every department, branch, region, division, and company that I have led. Simply stated they are:

  1. Integrity in every aspect of our business, people, practice, and principles. We deliver on our promises.
  2. Passion for performance. We will not be mediocre at anything.
  3. Commitment to self-improvement and personal excellence.
  4. Accountability for the quality of work, as well as personal and business commitments.
  5. Relationships between people. Businesses don’t do business, people do.

For someone to get hired in my organization, I or my team has always had to believe the individual held to these same values. However, you can’t stop there. While it is true that to build a formidable team you need agreement on core values and solid competencies; you also need diversity in style.

Early in my career I had the good fortune of running the Atlanta branch of a large ERP software company. These were the glory days when companies would pay millions for software and millions for the implementation of that software. We were in the final selection and negotiation process on what later became the largest software sale for the company on a single CPU, $2.4 million, software only. Add software maintenance and services and the initial contract surpasses $5 million.

During the final evaluation, our prospect flew 40 of their people to Chicago to spend a week with us to work through implementation plans and strategy as well as work with the software. It was an intense week for our team. We had to be “on” every minute of the day. About two hours into the first day, one of the executives from the prospect took me to the side and told me we were going to lose unless I removed my lead project manager from the account. I was in disbelief of what he was saying. The individual he was speaking of was one of the best if not the best I had on my team. He was one of the best in the entire corporation. He was a retired Army Colonel. He did three combat tours in Viet Nam. He was the epitome of leadership, integrity, and knowledge of how to efficiently and effectively get a project implemented.

We stepped outside the room and the executive explained. He told me; we appreciate this gentleman, but he will never work. Our culture is one of nourishment, one of hand holding and soft, encouraging words. You could speak with your project manager, and he might be able to do that the rest of the week, but that is not the way he is wired, and he will never be able to maintain that demeanor over an eighteen-month to two-year implementation period. I knew he was telling the truth.

Fortunately, I knew who I needed, but she wasn’t on my team. I went straight to the corner office, interrupted my CEO and told him who I needed and why. I used the two-minute briefing technique that the gentleman I was about to replace had so effectively taught me. Long story short, I pulled a lady from the Chicago branch to be our lead project manager. The prospect fell in love with her, and they canceled the week that was to follow with my competitor and became our customer.

I was lucky that time, but I learned the valuable lesson of having a diversity of styles on the team. It has served me well ever since.

About Terry:

Terry is Managing Partner at AmeriStride, a business growth, leadership development and performance management consulting firm. He serves as Chapter President of Truth@Work Chattanooga, a Christian business leader ministry. Terry focuses on helping business leaders create high-performance character driven organizations that continually learn, lead in their respective industry and last by obtaining a sustainable growth rate year after year. To learn more about Terry and AmeriStride, please visit or email him at

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